This article and its contents will be time-stamped, but they certainly won’t be time locked … whatever that means anymore.
So in the immortal words of River Song, “Spoilers.”
After May 18, 2013 there was, if you will pardon the pun, a large moment of silence. Then, on September 28 after “The Name,” there was a name. For a while, after that, there were murmurs until, on October 19 Time itself became suspended as though holding its breath in a debris of lives and, from a mountaintop a green-hued sonic screwdriver is pointed at the skies. And like a released elastic band, Time speeds up on November 9 and war and chaos come spiraling towards us with the “premonitions” that a soldier claims do not exist. But I am getting ahead of myself because, before that on the same day, there is one more moment of silence before a plunge into the epic music and story of a man known to his foes as the Oncoming Storm.
And then we go back. Yes, we shall go back. We go back to November 14 from a countdown of Eleven, Ten, Nine until Eight on The Night of The Doctor when we see the fateful decision that forever shapes the numbers that come after. And just when we think it’s over, just when we think that perhaps we will only see fragments of a war and nothing beyond what will be seen, on November 20th we witnessed The Last Day of the Time Lords.
These are the main trailers and mini-episodes leading up to the 50th Anniversary Doctor Who episode “The Day of The Doctor.” So as “The Day of The Doctor” awaits us tomorrow on cable, in movie theatres and even on its own global simulcast, what do we already know about this episode?
Well, trying to predict Doctor Who is a lot like attempting to predict God in Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens, because like The Doctor “God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players [i.e. everybody], to being involved in an obscure and complex variant of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won’t tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.”
The above pretty much sums up my feelings on trying to forecast the Oncoming Storm’s episodes, never mind the 50th Anniversary Special. However, based on various clips, trailers, and the two web mini-episodes here is what we can put together so far in something like the strange Doctor Who puts, well, anything plot-wise together. First, let’s look at what BBC released with their hashtag:
“The Doctors embark on their greatest adventure in this 50th Anniversary Special: In 2013, something terrible is awakening in London’s National Gallery; in 1562, a murderous plot is afoot in Elizabethan England; and somewhere in space an ancient battle reaches its devastating conclusion.
All of reality is at stake as the Doctor’s own dangerous past comes back to haunt him.
World, are you ready? #SaveTheDay”
Now, it seems likely that Doctor Eleven and Clara got out of his own time-stream and based on the small clips, such as their time at the museum, they are the ones in 2013. We also know, based on past episodes, that Doctor Ten was once romantically involved with Queen Elizabeth I (apparently married to her) and something happened between them that made her so angry she ordered his death. Finally the ancient battle coming to its conclusion, based on what little we know of temporal war and the fact that The War Doctor, played by John Hurt and identified as such in the credits of “The Night of The Doctor,” aged from a young man to a very old one seems to be evident, or at least to me. What is also interesting is that the Zygons, classic shape-shifting Doctor Who monsters, are also making their appearance in the 50th Anniversary Special along with the Daleks.
Whether or not they are a part of the Time War or they are after it is unknown. The fact that the TARDIS is being lifted however seems to indicate that Earth is aware of The Doctor again, or that U.N.I.T. is getting involved in what will most likely be a potentially cataclysmic event. Rose Tyler is also going to be with The Doctor, at least the Tenth one as his Companion before she is taken to an alternate reality, and she seems to be present with The War Doctor at The Moment where he destroys both Time Lords and Daleks in her manifestation as Bad Wolf.
And now we go further into conjecture, if we aren’t there already. I certainly know I am. For me, the fact that the white rift opens in the museum in front of Clara and The Doctor reminds me of “the cracks in time” that occurred with the TARDIS’ destruction back in “The Eleventh Hour.” At the same time, this is not the first instance in which Time has conspired to place The Doctor with his past incarnations when the need arises.
But I think what disturbs me the most is that, on Trenzalore The Doctor jumped into his own time stream. This is apparently something that no one should do, and most people do not survive it. For me, I suspect that there are consequences for The Doctor entering his own time-stream at the point after his own death and I think that the presence of The War Doctor is indicative of this. He is an incarnation that The Doctor does not like to acknowledge based on his actions during The Last Great Time War.
Yet I wonder if perhaps The War Doctor is in some ways a gate onto himself due to his psychic trauma and influence over Time past the apparent time lock around the events of the War and if by entering his own time-stream, in a similar way to how the Time Lords used The Master to bring Gallifrey and the War to 2010 in “The End of Time,” he has unlocked something incredibly terrifying. It would not be the first time that The Doctor has inadvertently unleashed a horror on the universe out of curiosity or a sense of compassion. After all, the Daleks were once trapped in their own City on Skaro and weren’t even aware of life on other worlds before The First Doctor decided to pay them a visit.
Aside from all this speculation as to how we can even see The Time War with the time lock (without going insane like Dalek Caan) and what is going to happen is beyond me and, frankly, I am overjoyed to see how this will all fit haphazardly and gloriously together. But there is one thing I would definitely like to see in this 50th Anniversary Special. I would love to see the Tenth Doctor’s response to seeing The War Doctor which will hopefully be different than Eleven’s response. Yet more than that, I want to see Bad Wolf Rose interact with Doctor Eleven and see her show The War Doctor a little more compassion because, if anyone deserves it, it would be him for doing what none of his other incarnations could ever do.
I am fascinated by one rumour however. We have already seen Paul McGann’s return in “The Night of The Doctor,” but apparently Tom Baker, who once played the jelly-baby eating Fourth Doctor, is going to make his own appearance as well. Whether he is coming back as the Fourth Doctor or in another role is a different story entirely.
Time always brings with it surprises … and this is especially true for Time Lords. And please, post your speculations and comments down below so we can predict how The Doctor’s day will go. We’ll see you in Utopia.